Germany: Split in Bishops Conference…

Germany: Split in Bishops Conference…

.- A German cardinal has publicly opposed the words of two other German bishops who have suggested that the nation’s Church can form its own policies without direction from Rome. Cordes

Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes [Ed: pictured left] published a letter earlier this month objecting to the pronouncements of prominent leaders of the Church in Germany that the nation’s bishops’ conference will pursue its own program of pastoral care for marriages and family regardless of the outcome of October’s Synod on the Family.

At a Feb. 25 press conference following the German bishops’ plenary assembly, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, who is president of the conference, stated, “We are not a branch of Rome. Each conference of bishops is responsible for pastoral care in its cultural context and must preach the Gospel in its own, original way. We cannot wait for a synod to tell us how we have to shape pastoral care for marriage and family here.”

Cardinal Marx, whom the German bishops have chosen as one of their three delegates at the upcoming Synod on the Family, added that there are “certain expectations” of Germany in helping the Church to open doors and “go down new paths,” and that “in doctrine, we also learn from life.”

He was echoed by Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabruck – a fellow synod delegate – who called the Synod on the Family a “historically important” moment and a “paradigm shift,” urging that “the reality of men and the world” be a source for theological understanding.

Cardinal Cordes – who was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Paderborn and is president emeritus of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum – published a strenuous objection to the media statements of his fellow German bishops in the form of a March 7 letter to the editor of Die Tagespost, a prominent German language Catholic newspaper.

“Since the words of the highest representative of Catholics in Germany have a guideline-like character, and create substantial waves in the media, it makes sense to object publicly to some of the utterances, in order to limit the confusion which they have caused,” Cardinal Cordes wrote.

The cardinal noted that the February press conference was focused on the Synod on the Family, and on particular of the proposal by Cardinal Walter Kasper – another German – to admit some among the divorced and civilly remarried to Communion.

“The problem was addressed with the beautiful words of ‘new solutions’ and ‘opening doors’,” Cardinal Cordes wrote.

He responded to Cardinal Marx’ characterization of the Church in Germany as an exemplar by saying that “if he wanted to express that Germany is example in leading the faithful to a giving oneself up to Christ, then I think the bishop is fooled by wishful thinking. The existing German ecclesial apparatus is completely unfit to work against growing secularism.”

“It was not without reason,” Cardinal Cordes wrote, that Benedict XVI strongly urged the Church in Germany to become less worldly during his 2011 visit there.

“In themes of faith, realism counts above all,” the cardinal reflected. “Therefore one has to consider the facts.” He noted that a recent survey shows that among Catholics in western Germany, only 16 percent believe God to be personal: “all other Catholics see in God a faceless providence, an anonymous fate along the lines of a primordial power. Or they simply deny his existence flat out. What do they think of when they pray the Our Father? So there is no reason to pride ourselves on our faith if we stand in comparison to other countries.”

Cardinal Cordes then commented on Cardinal Marx’ ecclesiological statements, saying his “theological blurriness makes you wonder,” adding that statements like “we are not a branch of Rome” are more suited “to the counter of a bar.”

“The head of the German bishop’s conference certainly has some competence when it comes to a second edition of the hymnal or the changing of the pilgrim route to Altötting,” Cardinal Cordes stated. “But the president argues something entirely different.”

“The president argues about the drama of the divorced and remarried! This matter reaches far beyond regional particularities of a pragmatic nature, of a given mentality and cultural background. This matter is bound to the very center of theology. In this field not even a cardinal can loosen such a complex Gordian knot in a single swordstroke. He has the sacramental theology of the Council of Trent. He has also the words of Benedict XVI, who only recently (January 21, 2012) told the Roman Rota, the ordinary court of the Apostolic See, that no-one can simply brush over binding legislation of the Church when it comes to pastoral matters. A responsible shepherd cannot be guided by a blurred ‘mercy.’ And while the president repeats that regarding the Magisterium, he wants to ‘stay within the community of the Church,’ he either ignores the limits that this Magisterium gives to pastoral care, or he is carefree in making a statement to make himself sound good.”

Cardinal Cordes lamented that in Cardinal Marx’ comments, the idea of communion – among bishops, and with the Bishop of Rome – was sorely lacking, “even though the bishops expressly promised ‘unity with the College of Bishops under the Successor of Peter’ during their episcopal consecration. The sentence: ‘We cannot wait for a synod to tell us how we have to shape pastoral care for marriage and family here’ is not imbued with a spirit of ‘Communio’.”

He charged that the message sent by Cardinal Marx “seems to be the result of an ‘obedience that goes ahead’, a deeply political strategy which creates ‘facts’ in order to dominate the process of decision-making and to put pressure on their colleagues.”

“Particularly deplorable are the statements during the press conference that the ‘new solutions’ – everyone knows what is meant – can be theologically justified,” Cardinal Cordes wrote. “Does he want to say that the dogma of the inseparability of marriage becomes intolerable because of the life situations of remarried people?

Cardinal Cordes then turned to the comments made by Bishop Bode, who had cited Gaudium et spes, Vatican II’s pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world, as a support for his conclusion that “not only does the Christian message have to find resonance with men, but also men must find resonance with us.”

Cardinal Cordes responded, saying that while Gaudium et spes does state that “nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in the hearts of Christ’s followers,” the fathers of Vatican II “came to the conclusion that it would be erroneous to see the ‘signs of the times’ in the life of men simply as a ‘source of faith’ … and formally excluded the embarrassing fallacy that any challenge of the Church as such would be a source of faith.”

In contrast, he noted, the Second Vatican Council’s dogmatic constitution on divine revelation, Dei verbum, “leaves no doubt that faith in the Catholic Church feeds solely from Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium.”

“Independent of this unambiguous direction, it would be paradoxical to ascribe to a small part of the Church, who live in spiritually regrettable but objectively still irregular situation, the function of a source of faith,” Cardinal Cordes noted.

He concluded, writing that “May the shepherds who gather in Rome this autumn also give guidance to  the majority of practicing members of the Church, on how to ever deepen their marriage and to root it in Jesus Christ, so they may be testimonies of God’s power in the life of man for their contemporaries.”

“May the synod fathers come to the conclusion to pronounce deep respect for those who never married a second time – who due to their faithfulness to their first marriage commitment, did not enter a second union. Those cases also exist.”


So, what’s a German Catholic to do now?  We’ve already had one critic of an English Bishop who wrote to warn his priests not to support  Charities that are not faithful to Catholic teaching, declare on this blog that “Bishop Egan he is surely subject to the norms of the Conference of Bishops for England and Wales…” so what ARE these “norms” for bishops’ conferences?  He who shouts loudest get to boss everyone else? What then? 

Comments (42)

  • Athanasius

    Cardinal Cordes’ words are just the latest example of what has happened in the hierarchy of the Church since Francis was elected Pope. When a Supreme Pontiff abdicates his Petrine duty and authority to teach and to sanctify, in favour of a liberal democratic Collegiality, then disaster is bound to result. It seems to me that Francis is set on disunifying the hierarchy and sowing confusion and division in the Church. This is a statement of objective fact that cannot be denied by any sane person.

    March 24, 2015 at 8:59 pm
  • shane

    Cardinal Cordes is ‘astonished that the German Church supposedly enjoys such great respect within Catholicism.’ I suspect the enduring clout of the German Church has more to do with its immense wealth. (According to the ‘Catholic Herald’ the Church in Germany in 2013 received an astonishing €5.5bn via the church tax.) Money talks, unfortunately.

    March 24, 2015 at 9:02 pm
    • editor


      Where have you BEEN? Good to have you back.

      That’s awful to think, about the money talking in Germany. It’s talking in my neck of the woods in Scotland, too, and what it’s saying is: “you’re about to run out – stop buying fresh cream meringues…” 😀

      March 24, 2015 at 9:54 pm
      • shane

        Cheers, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in work and study (or at least pretending to be). Mmmm…fresh cream meringues, you’ve made me hungry now!

        March 24, 2015 at 10:27 pm
  • Crouchback

    I take it most of you have seen this……from the Remnant and other sites.

    March 24, 2015 at 9:21 pm
    • editor


      Many thanks for posting that link – I’d not seen that. Absolutely fantastic news. Those priests are to be congratulated for being willing to put their names to a letter aimed at preserving the Ten Commandments! That’s not sarcasm, honestly, just reminding us all how bad things are, that such a letter and signatures are necessary.

      I wonder how many – if any – priests in Scotland would sign a similar Open Letter?

      I’m tempted to say “we’ll never know” but maybe, by some miracle, one of them will take the initiative.

      Then follow it up with another Open Letter demanding training in the Traditional Latin Mass! Dream on!

      March 24, 2015 at 9:47 pm
      • Crouchback

        Anything to be of service…..I e mailed it to you previously……so I won’t stick around while you sharpen your Guillotine …..

        Chapeau…..and Good Evening……!!!

        March 24, 2015 at 9:54 pm
      • editor

        Sorry, Crouchback, you must have written a load of stuff with dots after, so I’d have put it in my UNREAD folder to read when time allows… Pays to get to the point and stay there when you email moi 😀

        March 24, 2015 at 9:55 pm
    • gabriel syme

      Thanks a lot for posting that Crouchback, I had not seen it.

      Its very encouraging, though sad to see that no Bishops appear on the list.

      I don’t know many English priests, but the signatories Frs Hunwicke and Blake are familiar to me, thanks to their blogs. I know Fr Finnegan is a blogger too, but I don’t read him (maybe I will start!) . And I was at mass in Edinburgh once, which had Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP present.

      I agree with Editor that its interesting to ponder how many priests in Scotland would have the bal…….I mean guts to follow this fine example? I can think of maybe a handful, but I wont hold my breath.

      March 24, 2015 at 10:02 pm
      • editor

        Gabriel Syme,

        I noticed – on studying the list briefly earlier – that there is a priest with a name that matches a Scots priest (better not name him in case it’s someone else and he has a hard time!) so, who knows, maybe I’m wrong and maybe we would manage to gather some signatures, “some” being around, at most, three 😀

        I’m a very bad girl – just ask Tom, PTR, CS, dismayed, Followthetruth, Truth Rules and all their friends!

        March 24, 2015 at 11:33 pm
      • gabriel syme

        there is a priest with a name that matches a Scots priest

        Ah yes, Fr Binu Palakapally – the Palakapally clan being well known in Scotland!

        There’s about three Fr Binu Palakapallys in Glasgow alone, so who knows which one it could be? 😉

        (And well spotted! )

        March 25, 2015 at 12:43 am
      • editor

        Gabriel Syme,

        Are you TRYING to win the race to the bottom of the payscale? 😀

        Here’s something that should surprise nobody here – the reaction of Cardinal Vincent Nichols to the 500 priests who signed the Open Letter. Click here to NOT be surprised…

        I’ve NEVER seen him write in to rebuke any of the priests who routinely attack the Faith on the letters pages of the “Catholic” press or through their regular columns of dissent – notably Mgr Loftus in the “Catholic” Times and Scottish “Catholic” Observer – yet he’s wasted no time rebuking the faithful priests who want only to defend traditional teaching on marriage.

        I hope all of those priests stand firm. I wish they would hire a hall and gather together to express their concerns, sell tickets so the laity can support them. I’d make sure Gabriel was on the first available train!

        March 25, 2015 at 8:34 pm
      • westminsterfly

        Yes, when clergy publicly attack faithful Catholics, or support dissent from Catholic moral / doctrinal teaching, it is nearly always a manifestation of some contradiction or dilemma in their own personal life – even if not of a sexual nature, maybe some other kind of disordered attachment. Perhaps the incumbent of Ambrosden Avenue needs greater scrutiny.

        March 25, 2015 at 10:56 pm
      • editor


        Actually, there was some talk some time ago about an alleged friendship with a nun, and I believe Bishop Nichols (as he then was) threatened to sue the newspaper – I tried to find it just now but no luck. Of course, we have to be careful – the friendship may well have been perfectly innocent, and indeed, we must assume that, but I do agree with you in principle, that dissenters are highly likely to have some problem (and that of a sexual nature) in their personal lives.

        March 26, 2015 at 12:09 am
      • gabriel syme

        Damian Thompson in the Spectator responds to Cardinal Nichols attack on faithful priests.

        March 26, 2015 at 4:10 pm
      • pew catholic

        I have spotted EIGHT Scottish priests in the brave 500. OK, maybe one or two are confused with English namesakes, but I can’t believe all of them are. Well done, Fathers!

        March 27, 2015 at 12:39 am
      • editor

        Pew Catholic,

        That’s great – I must re-check the list.

        Gabriel Syme,

        I’m interested in Damian Thompson’s observation (which I noted on my first scanning of the list) that there are names on that list that I wouldn’t have expected – priests not regarded as “traditional” or even “conservative”. Even some of those who are liberals or liberal-leaning, it seems, have to draw the line somewhere! Thanks be to God!

        March 27, 2015 at 9:36 am
  • gabriel syme

    Its good this Cardinal has spoken against Marx; although it does highlight what a divided shambles the Hierarchy of the Church has become. On the bright side, with prelates openly bickering in the secular press, what kind of fool could continue to deny the crisis raging in the Church?

    I am glad that someone has taken Marx to task, given the silence on the matter from Rome. When it comes to the SSPX, Mueller is always ‘in like flint’ with the unkind comments, talking of a non-existent ‘de facto’ schism and erroneously proclaiming the faith to be non-negotiable.

    Yet, when faced with this rubbish from Marx…………silence.

    March 24, 2015 at 10:13 pm
    • editor

      Gabriel Syme,

      Spot on. However, I’m afraid the answer to your question: “what kind of fool could continue to deny the crisis raging in the Church?” has to be “the kind of fools who continue to bleat about obedience over divine revelation and other such nonsense.” Those fools.

      March 24, 2015 at 11:35 pm
  • Crouchback

    As I said in my e mail to Madame Le Guillotine …….

    You never see the SSPX sending letters like this…..they don’t need to, everybody knows exactly where the SSPX stand on matters of doctrine.

    Maybe the signatories, whilst we applaud their initiative …..should think about that.

    March 24, 2015 at 10:46 pm
  • cbucket

    Well as they say, “Nobody goes into the breach before the Germans” 🙂 I’ll get me coat.

    March 24, 2015 at 10:51 pm
  • editor

    Since this discussion was sparked by a German cardinal turning on the “liberals”, I think this is the most appropriate thread for posting similar “good news” stories. We’ve celebrated the 500 priests who signed the Open Letter. That’s a really good news story. Here’s another one…

    Our sometime blogger in France, Lionel, has emailed me the following extract and link to the latest from Lifesitenews on Cardinal Burke who speaks, in interview, about the manipulation of the Synod, and related issues…

    LSN: Do you think there is a link between the “death of the cult” – non adoring, anthropocentric liturgy – and the culture of death?

    CB: I’m very convinced that where abuses entered into liturgical practice in the Church, abuses which reflected a very anthropocentric direction, in other words, where the sacred worship began to be presented as the activity of man instead of the action of God in our midst, that clearly has led people in a wrong direction, and has had a very negative impact on the life of every individual and in a particular way upon married life. The beauty of married life is in a very particular way perceived and confirmed in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Click here to read entire interview

    March 24, 2015 at 11:56 pm
  • Christina

    Every priest I’ve ever known to have celebrated the traditional Mass, bar one, is on that list of signatures. I hadn’t realised just how many priests there were in England who do celebrate it.

    Re German bishops – oh aren’t all those chickens coming home to roost!

    March 25, 2015 at 12:45 am
  • Crouchback

    Help ma Boab………if you thought the 500 priest letter was news….wait to you see this beauty…..

    Honestly, I spluttered when I got to the 130th word….when the Cardinal tells us about developing Doctrine…….unbelievable…..nobody could make this up…….

    March 25, 2015 at 1:23 am
  • escriva josemaria

    I agree with the german bishop , i think it time they get they own policies of the synod of family without getting directions from rome . Because in rome , rome does not know how synod over their is been done , i think the german bishop is right by saying we can not get directions from rome .

    March 25, 2015 at 2:54 pm
    • Margaret Mary

      Escriva JoseMaria,

      Your views are a bit at odds with your chosen namesake. The founder of Opus Dei would not agree with you at all. On something like that, the doctrine on marriage, we all have to take directions from Rome!

      March 25, 2015 at 6:42 pm
  • Spero

    Escriva Josemaria

    I agree with the German bishop that they should ” get their own policies of the Synod, without getting directions from Rome”

    And, guess what, there is an easy answer! Join the German Protestant Church!

    Let them go for it!

    Do they not get it? It is the HONEST thing to do, in their case, with their convictions.

    March 25, 2015 at 5:47 pm
    • Margaret Mary


      I agree! The German bishops seem to be Protestant in spirit, that’s for sure – except Cardinal Cordes who spoke out against the rebellious Cardinal Marx.

      March 25, 2015 at 6:43 pm
    • Therese


      Quite, although to be honest I think that Escriva Josemaria and the German bishops have already joined the German Protestant Church.

      March 25, 2015 at 8:06 pm
  • crouchback

    The following link could be given to a five year old just learning to read. It is attractive, clear and to the point. Not like the tortured sentences we see in such rags as the Tablet.

    If only the 500 English priests who have signed yesterday’s open letter had read and acted on these beautifully simple words then they would have realised long ago that no matter how long it takes the Vatican II course of the church can only end in doctrinal confusion and ultimately ….denial of the Catholic Faith.

    That is why we all live in diocese that are on suicide watch, in families where the faith is thrown aside, in parishes…..if your parish still survives at all……that are an empty husk of what they once were.

    Worse than that even, we now have a Pope who when ever he sees a microphone feels compelled to talk absolute rubbish at every opportunity. The dangerous thing is the uninformed… about 99.9% of Catholics have no defence against this crap.

    That’s why I’m sending you this…..enjoy.

    March 25, 2015 at 6:36 pm
  • Petrus

    Well, the Reformation was started by a German, as was Communism and now the Reformation Mk II, Modernism, is being accelerated by Germans.

    Apart from beer, cars, football teams and sausages, what good has ever come out of Germany? That’s a joke!

    March 25, 2015 at 10:16 pm
    • editor


      Too late. I’ve phoned the Joke Police. They’re on their way…

      March 25, 2015 at 10:57 pm
  • Margaret Mary

    I know this isn’t about Germany, but about a new bishop appointed in Chile but I thought it was probably OK to post it here – what is going on when the Pope appoints this bishop with his child abuse issues?

    March 26, 2015 at 3:59 pm
  • Leo

    The panzers of the teutonic schismatic simony-addicted episcopal modernists have been visible on the horizon for quite some time on the northern horizon. It is quite obvious that at this stage they intend to force their way south to occupy Rome by next October. This time they really are coming for the doctrine. And lamentably, horrifically, all the evidence suggests that, barring divine intervention, they will be received with open arms by the Successor of Peter, a man who in years to come may possibly be remembered as the most scandalous Pope in Church history.

    The Germans were converted relatively late compared to other European countries, in the 8th century. One might question how strongly the Faith ever took root in large sections of the Northern tribes. Discussion on motives of the schismatic episcopal storm troopers naturally centre on revenue streams, immoral and otherwise, and the desire to keep the fornicating, contracepting, adulterous, sodomizing sponsors in the pews financially compliant. And the principle of Ockham’s Razor suggest that’s the explanation. It just a thought, but it occurs to me that the final goal lies beyond simply the accumulation of earthly treasure. These enemies of the Faith don’t exactly give the unmistakeable impression that their aims and ambitions extend beyond their allotted time in this world. How many squillions of filthy lucre will it take to satiate their demands, whatever their spending habits?

    Is it not reasonable to believe that the real, unswerving ambition and pinnacle of desire of the German Modernist Invaders is the overturning of doctrine, impossible as that is? And the financial contributions from the apostate hordes are viewed as an essential aid, or persuader? The Pope rebuked a poor unfortunate mother who was expecting her eight child for “putting God to the test”. The words irony and “elephant in the room” spring to mind when thoughts switch to the schismatic, heretical Kasperian Panzer Grenadiers and their papal backer. Remember, at his very first Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis gave an endorsement to a book written by, guess who, Cardinal Kasper. The writing the wall has been getting bigger ever since.

    The second, concluding stage of the Synod of Sodom is now less than 200 days away. This might be a good time to recall the following words from 26 years ago:

    “Besides, the Pope has just named Monsignor Kasper a bishop in Germany. He was secretary of the Synod in 1985 presided over by Cardinal Danneels of Brussels. Kasper was the leader of, the mastermind, of the Synod. He is very intelligent and he is one of the most dangerous of Conciliarists…They are absolutely men of the left, who, deep down link up with the Rahners and Hans Kungs but who take care not to say so. They keep up appearances in order to avoid being associated by anyone with the extremists, but they have the same spirit.”

    -Archbishop Lefebvre, in an interview first published in Fideliter, July/August 1989

    March 26, 2015 at 4:06 pm
    • editor


      “Remember, at his very first Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis gave an endorsement to a book written by, guess who, Cardinal Kasper. The writing the wall has been getting bigger ever since.”

      It sure has, with him constantly creating false dichotomies that, whatever their intention, have the effect of weakening the Faith and causing confusion. I mean, could someone tell me how it is possible to separate “faith” from “doctrine”?

      If it’s just about believing in God, well, even the Devil believes in (knows) God. So, why create this false division between Catholic faith and doctrine. It just does not make sense. Click here to read the latest gems to fall from the papal lips…

      March 26, 2015 at 7:44 pm
  • Benedict Carter

    We should thank Francis the Destroyer for one thing: those in the Hierarchy who are actually still Catholics are now known to us. Consequently, we also know who among them is not a Catholic.

    Choose your side in what is clearly now an open a civil war. The sheep and the goats are being separated.

    March 26, 2015 at 7:59 pm
  • Margaret Mary

    Cardinal Muller is saying some very strong things now, after the outspokenness of Cardinal Marx and Cardinal Cordes. I’m very glad to see him explaining that Bishops Conferences are not in charge.

    March 27, 2015 at 12:05 am
  • John

    If true very worrying news latest post in tradition in Suspect SSPX will do a deal with Rome.
    What do the more experienced bloggers think

    March 27, 2015 at 9:05 am
    • editor


      Your question takes us off topic. I will answer it here but any future comments you wish to make, please go to the General Discussion thread to do so.

      All this talk of the SSPX “doing a deal with Rome” is sheer nonsense. Ignore it. It comes from a bunch of troublemaking idiots who are clearly of a schismatic mindset. They clearly enjoy the current irregular situation, something which Archbishop Lefebvre did not, and hurried to Rome at every opportunity to try to resolve it. He would be horrified to see people trying to keep the SSPX away from discussions in Rome. If these people who keep stirring the pot by trying to insinuate (or say openly) that the SSPX will accept false teaching as a condition of recognition in any diocese, then they are either stupid and not been paying attention, or they are malicious. If they had a Catholic bone in their body they would be desperate to “do a deal with Rome” – i.e. restore regularisation, but since this subject of off topic, I won’t elaborate on that further here. Just reflect, please, on that fact and leave the details to Bishop Fellay!

      If there is more you wish to say on this (non) news, please do so on the General Discussion thread, where Leprechaun has just informed us that he has seen the light with respect to the extremist movement of former SSPX people known as the “resistance” movement. Click here My advice is to ignore all such talk and stay away from websites that encourage it. Thanks.

      March 27, 2015 at 9:23 am
      • John

        Thanks for that reply editor. I am probably becoming paranoid.

        March 27, 2015 at 9:34 am
      • editor


        Leprechaun’s post is on the Bishop Williamson – Excommunicated! thread, not the General Discussion thread. Apologies. Feel free to take up the matter there, although I have been trying hard not to give the “resistance” (to nothing!) movement any publicity at all.

        And anyway, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not all talking about you behind your back! 😀

        March 27, 2015 at 9:54 am
  • Summa

    I’m hoping the likes of Bishop Athanasius Schneider comes out and condemns these Protestants.
    More cream from the devil’s pot being lapped up by liberals and modernists.

    March 27, 2015 at 11:17 am

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